Branca's Walk-Off Sacrifice Fly Gives Black the Series

Oct. 21, 2008

Final Stats

UCF Black Stats in PDF Format

UCF Gold Stats in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The fall season officially came to a close Tuesday morning when sophomore Stephen Branca gave Black a walk-off victory in a 3-2 win over Gold in the final game of UCF's Black & Gold World Series at Jay Bergman Field. The two teams split the first two five-inning contests, leading up to Tuesday's decisive third game.

"We could not have drawn up a better World Series," said first-year head coach Terry Rooney. "The last game went down to the last inning with a tie score and the bases loaded and you win it on the last at-bat. Overall this three-game series was a fantastic way to end the fall."

Rooney not only appreciated the outcome, he also loved the players' enthusiasm during the event.

"One of the reasons we talk about putting guys in competitive situations is to be able to see how guys deal through adversity," said Rooney. "Players' true competiveness and winning spirit comes out when times get tough, and these last three days both teams faced adversity, especially today. I told the team at the very end that those feelings they had in the last inning, I want the guys to store them away. So whether you were in the field or at-bat, the question is `were you expecting to win?' If you lost and you're a little bit upset, that's your competitiveness coming out and that's a great thing. If you won, you should enjoy the thrill of victory because you felt like you put everything out there.

"Now we are together. There is no Black. There is no Gold. We are UCF. And this program will take the next step when every single time we show up to the field, we expect to win."

Sophomore righty Cody Allen allowed just one hit for Black, a solo homer to senior Kiko Vazquez in the fourth, in his 4.0 innings of work. Allen struck out a pair and walked one while throwing 26 of his 39 pitches for strikes. For Gold, senior Kyle Sweat got the start and gave up one earned run in 2.0 innings.

"I was just throwing strikes," said Allen simply. "I only had two strikeouts and the rest were basically ground balls. Coach Rooney was refining some of the points of my game this fall and getting a little movement on my ball. So I was focused on that and pounding the strike zone today. (I learned last year) that you can't take any days off. You think since it's such a long season and 56 games that you can skip something. But you really can't because it catches up to you towards the end of the season and the conference tournament. We can't do that this year."

Allen breezed through the top of the first with a pair of strikeouts. Sweat, though, worked into a jam in the bottom half as Black filled the bases with one away. Senior Brandon Romans chopped a 1-0 pitch that appeared to be heading into left field, but Vazquez leaped high enough at third to snag it and tagged out junior Shane Brown. Vazquez then turned to fire to first for a possible double play, but Romans beat it out to allow senior Colin Arnold to score the first run.

Black then added another run on a two-out error in the second, and it looked like that would be all they would need as Allen was continuing to force Gold to remain off-balance in the batter's box. Without a hit through 3.1 innings, Vazquez finally delivered for the Gold offense, crushing the first pitch over the left-field wall to cut the lead in half at 2-1. It was the second homer by either team in the series (Romans for Black in game one).

After Allen left through four innings, sophomore Brennan Dobbins took the mound and Gold quickly threatened on base hits by sophomore Evan Stobbs and freshman Beau Taylor, putting runners at the corners with no outs. With the defense conceding the run by playing double-play depth, senior Chadd Hartman grounded one to short for the 6-4-3 turn, however pinch-runner Jake Huxtable was able to score to knot it up at 2-2.

With Gold erasing a two-run deficit, Black did not let it bother them. Facing freshman D.J. Hicks, senior Eric Kallstrom and Brown both led off the fifth and final inning with singles, and junior Chris Duffy laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move them into scoring position. Following an intentional walk to Romans, Branca worked the count full before sending a sac fly that was just deep enough to left to allow Kallstrom to score the winning run.

The Knights will now begin preparing for the spring, as Opening Day 2009 is set for Feb. 20 at home against Virginia Commonwealth. Ticket information and the full schedule will be released at a later date.

"Next week we will be having some individual player meetings, and we'll get back into our offseason winter weights and conditioning along with some individual workouts," explained Rooney. "From a mechanical standpoint, we will work with some pitchers and position players, as we have two hours a week for individual workouts with each player. We also have six hours of lifting and conditioning, so we only have eight total hours starting next week."

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

Game Notes
UCF Gold - 2 R, 3 H, 2 E
UCF Black - 3 R, 4 H, 1 E
WP: Brennan Dobbins - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
LP: D.J. Hicks - 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Also pitched for Gold: Kyle Sweat - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
Also pitched for Black: Cody Allen - 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
-Black's Shane Brown paced both teams with two hits. Colin Arnold and Eric Kallstrom also had hits for Black.
-For Gold, Kiko Vazquez, Evan Stobbs and Beau Taylor collected base hits.
-In the three-game series, Chris Duffy led Black with a .500 average, going 3-for-6 with three doubles, a walk and a sac bunt. Eric Kallstrom also went over .400 by posting a .429 average on three hits in seven at-bats, while Brandon Romans connected for four RBI.
-Leading the way for Gold in the event, Kiko Vazquez (3-for-6, HR), Evan Stobbs (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Jake Huxtable (1-for-2, 2 R) all hit .500.